Muslim boy thrown off city bus for saying prayer, court docs allege

A little boy, 10 years old at the time, was thrown off a city bus for saying a prayer in Arabic when he couldn't find his MetroCard, court papers allege. Credit: Daniel Barry/Getty Images
A little boy, 10 years old at the time, was thrown off a city bus for saying a prayer in Arabic when he couldn’t find his MetroCard, court papers allege.
Credit: Daniel Barry/Getty Images

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is facing a lawsuit from a Muslim Arab-American boy who says he was kicked off a city bus about a year ago by a driver who called him a terrorist.

The boy’s name is being withheld due to his age. The lawyer representing him, Hyder A. Naqvi, said the family declined to speak publicly about the experience.

The boy was 10 years old at the time of the incident, and was on his way home from school, Naqvi said. He was boarding a B36 city bus in Brooklyn and couldn’t find his MetroCard. Fumbling around in his pockets and searching through his wallet, he murmured a prayer in Arabic that is said when looking for lost things, Naqvi said.

That’s when the bus driver lost it, Naqvi said. He screamed at the boy, calling him a terrorist and ordering him to get off the bus. The boy still had one foot on the first step of the bus when the driver slammed the door shut on him.

The boy went home “obviously upset,” Naqvi said. But the boy, who Naqvi described as “very mature for a kid that age,” went online and filed a complaint with the MTA.

“He was old enough at the time to know what discrimination was, and he now unfortunately knows what it feels like,” Naqvi said.

Naqvi said MTA officials brought the boy and his parents into their office. He told them what happened and described the driver, whose name he didn’t know. Naqvi said he believes the boy was even shown an array of photos of possible drivers.

The MTA promised they were conducting an investigation, but ultimately never gave the boy or his family any information about the results of the investigation or the name of the bus driver.

Because the MTA has refused to disclose the name of the bus driver, the lawsuit names the transit authority and “John Doe” as the respondents.

Naqvi said the boy has had trouble going back to school, being in school, and taking public transportation since the ugly incident with the bus driver.

The suit is asking for unspecified monetary damages and mandated sensitivity training for MTA employees.

The MTA declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat


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